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Movie Review: Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Written by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz from the novel by Ian Fleming
United Artists, 1971

Sean Connery came back for a sixth go at Bond (the franchise’s seventh) after briefly handing it over to George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This would not be his last, but I doubt many Bond fans include Never Say Never Again, a remake of Thunderball, as a definitive Bond, but more on that when the time comes. Also returning is Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton, who gave that movie some welcome playfulness.

The movie begins with Bond killing Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray, who briefly played Bond’s informant in Japan, Dikko Henderson, in You Only Live Twice, and taking over the SPECTRE arch-villain duties from the previous film’s Telly Savalas), who is trying to make doubles of himself to evade capture. After the opening credits, with the famous song by Shirley Bassey (a repeat performer from Goldfinger), Bond is given a mission in which he will pretend to be a diamond smuggler in order to find out who is stealing diamonds from a South African company, and strangely not putting them back on the market.

The film focuses on the method by which the diamonds are stolen, beginning with the mine workers, who hide them on their person somewhere and get them extracted by company doctors (or dentists) in return for money. We follow a dentist ready to make a sale, but he is killed by two assassins, Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover). In fact, anyone coming in contact with these diamonds are getting offed, and this apparently is a new thing. Someone must be very close to finishing their diamond smuggling for whatever reason.

Bond’s smuggling job is given to him by Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), and it’s not long before he too is in danger, and the investigation leads to Las Vegas, where a mysterious Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean, yep, that Jimmy Dean) seems to be behind it all. The diamonds are being used in a manner that requires radiation shields.

With the Bond franchise entering the seventies, some of the film techniques from the era start to show, like the insta-zoom shots and jarring editing. Although not completely overboard, this film is really choppy, with some poor editing choices and an outrageously complicated plot. The acting is horrible by most of the supporting cast, thanks in big part to some awful dialogue. Guy Hamilton’s sense of humor is still prevalent, but forced. I don’t know if it’s Hamilton or writers Maibaum and Mankiewicz responsible, but we have an elephant playing a slot machine and winning (with three pictures of circus elephants), and we have a bimbo with the name of Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood), trying to harken back to the days of Pussy Galore. It’s just not the same. There’s too much going on in this flick for those kinds of pranks to work. And if Jimmy Dean doesn’t get on your last nerve after awhile, consider yourself lucky.

Follows: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Next: Live and Let Die

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